I had an interesting conversation with Jeremy Cowart and Caroline from Paloma’s Nest at our launch party dinner this past Friday about checking email first thing in the morning. It really got me thinking about how much work rules my life and how hard it is to find balance when you feel pulled in 1000 directions. Admittedly, I am hard on myself, but I have an insatiable ambition that has created a lot of responsibility in my life. People need things from me and I have to follow-through. I still have a hundred flagged emails patiently waiting for my attention from last month. They don’t seem to end. I’m not complaining, just frustrated that some things drain the potential that I know I have to affect real change in people’s lives. I feel like I walked the plank for the last thirty days and dove into ice-cold water somewhere in the last 24 hours. Wake-up call. It’s all over. This magazine is done. And now, the dust settles. This month happened way too fast and I’m left feeling like I want some of that time back.
I’ve come to realize that I always leave events, including our launch party this weekend (launch party blog post to follow this), feeling regret. Why regret? Because, as hard as I try, I never end up getting to spend quality time with everyone I want to spend time with. I always fear forgetting to thank someone important, remembering a face and not being able to place the name, and even not being able to simply say hello to everyone because I get pulled in so many directions. Spending quality time with people makes me feel most fulfilled. I relish real connection, and sharing my life with people I love. So many people do amazing things for me–go so far out of their way–and I never feel like I can say enough thank you’s or give enough hugs. As I leap into the last six weeks of my 20′s I can’t help but ask myself “how can I do this life better?” I want to clone myself so I can be there for everyone and do the things I have on my heart to do.
My daily life is relatively boring by most standards. You’ve been warned. Read further if you think my life is glamorous. The real deal: I’m grateful for my work, but it rules most everything I do. I sleep with earplugs in every night. Jeremy, Caroline and I talked about how if we wake up in the middle of the night, our minds start stirring about work and there’s no falling back asleep. What is it about creative driven people? I crack open one eye (typically just before my alarm goes off) and reach for my iPhone. I check texts first and emails even before I can get both eyes open. I check Twitter (thank you to those who are so chipper in the morning- you’re my coffee), get up and make the bed, open all the windows, and get dressed to work out. I try to get a good 45 minutes to an hour in at the gym (the whole time replying to emails and making a plan for the day) rush back to shower and then walk in my office to greet the girls. We have our morning huddle, laugh a lot all day amidst phone calls and meetings, and usually wonder how the day flies by so fast. I do love those hours with Katharine, Emily, and Whitney. At 5:45pm we have our afternoon huddle to plan for the next day, recount the day’s accomplishments, and then everyone goes home. It’s usually in those moments, after everyone leaves, that how much I did (or didn’t) get to during the day sinks in. Things always come up to throw my plans off for the day. I work in a culture of the unexpected. I’ve learned to just roll with it and resolve to finish it all at night.
Depending on Ari‘s call/boxing/gym/poker-night-with-the-guys schedule, I don’t see him much except at night. We knew this is how it would be when he entered residency, but it’s still tough. We talk for a few minutes before he goes to the gym after work. I try not to talk too much to him about my work. I deal with so many challenges each day that overwhelm people who aren’t used to it. To me it’s just normal business. To him, it’s emotionally taxing. This perplexes me considering he deals with dying cancer patients all day –real life– and I deal with personalities, paperwork and unending projects. So, I keep my work issues to myself. I work most nights till about midnight when I tuck myself into bed to check email again and read the Bible until I get sleepy. A couple times a week I go grocery shopping (ie- I do “the grocery marathon” to Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and Harris Teeter.) I signed up for a membership at Massage Envy so I would force myself to at least take an hour every week to breathe. I love that hour. Weekends Ari is usually working. I try to travel on those weekends because, honestly, it’s no fun being home alone. Rather than get out and be social if I’m here by myself, I tend to, well… work. I warned you before about this post, friends. My daily life, even though I’m a very content grateful person, is intense yet not so glamorous. My staff can attest that I never even bother to wear makeup. I shower and throw on jeans and a t-shirt most of the time. I think Ari has seen me in makeup 3 times in the last 6 months. When I travel or go to events, I make myself take the time to do my hair and get dressed. Most people think I am always decked out because those are the only pictures that get posted anywhere. Granted, I love getting gussied up for a night or two. It’s like playing dress up and it makes you feel good. But, I’m always happy to come home and put the heels on a shelf for a while.
Now that this issue of the magazine is out, people are already asking me “what’s next?” I’m about to make a big confession here and in making it, I know I’m starting to turn the wheels of change in my life: I need to get a life. Yes, we’re completely redoing the SW site and already working on the next issue that comes out on Valentine’s Day, but I have a full roster of consulting clients that I want to devote more time to and a nagging feeling that I’m not really living. My rep clients are where my work heart is and I frankly haven’t had enough space in my life for them recently because of the magazine. For those of you who know me well, you know I’m not just going to put something out that I am not 100% invested in. I had to get this magazine done and done well. We prepped this issue for a long while, but because of how busy I’ve been, I was forced to lay it out in 11 days. The last one took me 11 weeks. Remember that blog post I wrote about how I was feeling rested and making sure not to over-work? Yeah, that was funny. Minus those 11 days, I was doing really well. I stayed up till 6am five out of those eleven days and nearly thought I would faint from exhaustion at least ten of those days. Thank God it’s done. I won’t lie and say that next I’m slowing down. I’ll take this week to sleep a little more and reflect, but I know myself better than that. I’m refocusing. I’m changing. I’m doing a lot of praying.
This whole last month was a miracle. I remember twittering “dear miracles, I need a few of you today.” Well, I certainly got more than one. Truth: I didn’t think this issue would happen. It did… mostly thanks to these amazing ladies and daily encouragement from so many generous friends. Two weeks ago, I didn’t think we’d have a launch party. Thanks to Rebecca and countless others, we certainly did. I didn’t think I’d have any energy to celebrate at the launch party. (please refer back to staying up till 6am working and feeling like I was going to pass out from exhaustion) When the Mammoth Men transformed the after party into the best dance party I’ve ever experienced and I was surrounded by all the people I love most, I felt the weight of the world fall off my shoulders. They have no idea how much that meant to me… to just let loose and dance away everything you just read. It felt like pure gold. I didn’t think I’d love this issue. I don’t yet (there’s the hyper-critical in me again), but I’m head over heels for the cover. I can’t stop staring at it. Thank you for that, Jeremy. I didn’t think I’d write any of this, but something in me knows I need to. I need to get this out so I don’t waste any more time feeling regret.
I know this post is all over the place and I could try to re-write it so it isn’t, but this is just how I feel right now. I’m invigorated, tired, relieved, hopeful, sad, excited, restless, madly in love, and so grateful and humbled that it brings me to tears. My best friend told me to go to the playground and slide down the slide, feel like a kid again and just relax a little now that the issue is done. My husband told me the same thing. My mom told me the same thing. I’m not really sure what to do yet but I know I need to do something. You’re all going to tell me to just take a day off and “slow down.” I could do that, but it’s not a long-term solution. I’m not looking for a vacation, I’m contemplating a complete change in how I approach my life’s work so I don’t allow myself to enter the “11 days mode.” I want to feel the freedom of being at the playground, letting go, yet still harnessing the creative gifts I’ve been given that help other people flourish in life.
Thank you to the people who celebrated with us this week. My words don’t do justice to how blessed I feel to have such support and encouragement. I have much more to say but for now, it’s time for work.
P.S. my mom took this pic with her old Minolta film camera right after a storm outside of our house in Florida recently. There’s a storm brewing in the gulf right now and my mom is having a pretty significant (non-life threatening, so don’t worry) surgery tomorrow. I wish I was there with her. This picture makes me think of the brilliant calm that God gives us after we’ve weathered the storm. Thanks for this, Mom. I love you.